By Doug Gray, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – This week saw yet another disastrous round of the Brasileirão for the Rio clubs. Flamengo, Botafogo and Fluminense occupy three of the bottom seven positions in the league.
Botafogo once again will be marginally happier having secured a point away to the mighty Corinthians, but the result still sees them drop back into the bottom four and only a point adrift from safety. A heavy defeat to Serie A newcomers Avaí throws Flamengo into further turmoil dropping them to fourteenth in the table, and a 0 x 0 home draw against another team of minnows, Barueri, threatens Renato Gaúcho’s position as coach at Fluminense. After the game the team coach was attacked by irate fans, furious to see their team stuck firmly to the bottom of the table.
Corinthians 3 x 3 Botafogo
The opening minutes at a rain-soaked Pacaembú Stadium in São Paulo were dominated by the home side. Striker Jorge Henrique almost put Corinthians ahead with a stunning solo run that finally saw him shoot just wide. Botafogo reacted well and kept on level terms until the very end of the half when promising young striker Dentinho was awarded a penalty that he coolly converted himself, 1 x 0.
Within seconds of the restart it was 1 x 1. A cross from the right found Reinaldo in the box and he towered above the defense to equalize and send the stadium into shocked silence. They were back on their feet five minutes later however, a terrible free kick decision going their team’s way and Marcinho duly stepped up to convert a stunning thirty-yard strike.
The referee did little to help his cause when he allowed a flagrant handball by André Lima to stand to make it 2 x 2 and more controversy followed with another penalty decision for a foul on Dentinho which he converted at the second time of asking. The seesaw match ended in equilibrium when Lúcio Flávio beautifully curled a 25-yard free kick into the top corner with just ten minutes left.
Avaí 3 x 0 Flamengo
Avaí got off to a dream start against Flamengo when Luis Ricardo stabbed the ball home from close range after just eight minutes. The team settled immediately, and, brimming with the confidence a successful campaign has brought them, easily outplayed their illustrious opponents.
Adriano’s on-off form was erring on the latter as he wasted a good opportunity to equalize, and that miss was punished when Leo Gaga let fly from distance and the ball deflected off Flamengo’s Everton and past the helpless Bruno in goal, making it 2 x 0 at half time.
Both sides had excellent chances after the break but a combination of goalkeeper and woodwork maintained the scoreline until Willians was sent off after seventy minutes and the game tipped further into Avaí’s favor. That opened the Flamengo defense up even more, and Fabinho received a great pass on the edge of the area seven minutes later and had all the time in the world to fire the ball past Bruno and cap a great Sunday night for the team from Florianópolis.
Fluminense 0 x 0 Barueri
No such entertainment on offer at the Maracanã on Sunday as Fluminense and Barueri meted out a limp, goalless draw. Only some wayward finishing from Barueri’s Thiago Humberto spared further humiliation for the home side including two dreadful misses in one-on-ones with Rafael in the Flu goal and a remarkable deflection wide from his teammates’ shot as he lay on the ground.
As the game dragged to a close Flu hit the bar twice, including a fine save from René to tip Ruy’s effort onto the woodwork, but despite finishing the game with nine men after the dismissal of Barros and André Luiz for bad tackles, Barueri hung on until the final whistle to earn a point.
Next weekend Flamengo have a good opportunity to end their poor run at home to Santo André on Saturday. Sunday sees Botafogo entertain Grêmio, while Fluminense will travel to São Paulo for a crucial game against Santos which they must win to avoid falling further adrift at the bottom.